Freedom (political)


Political freedom (also known as political autonomy or political agency) is a central
concept Concepts are defined as abstract ideas A mental representation (or cognitive representation), in philosophy of mind Philosophy of mind is a branch of philosophy that studies the ontology and nature of the mind and its relationship with the bod ...

history History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approxima ...

and political thought and one of the most important features of
democratic Democrat, Democrats, or Democratic may refer to: *A proponent of democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people have the a ...

societies.Hannah Arendt, "What is Freedom?", ''Between Past and Future: Eight Exercises in Political Thought'', (New York: Penguin, 1993). Political freedom was described as freedom from oppression or coercion, the absence of disabling conditions for an individual and the fulfillment of enabling conditions, or the absence of life conditions of compulsion, e.g. economic compulsion, in a society. Although political freedom is often interpreted negatively as the freedom from unreasonable external constraints on action, it can also refer to the
positive Positive is a property of Positivity (disambiguation), positivity and may refer to: Mathematics and science * Converging lens or positive lens, in optics * Plus sign, the sign "+" used to indicate a positive number * Positive (electricity), a po ...
exercise of rights, capacities and possibilities for action and the exercise of social or group rights. The concept can also include freedom from internal constraints on political action or speech (e.g. social
conformity Conformity is the act of matching attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors to group A group is a number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and nominal number, label. The original examples are the natura ...

, consistency, or inauthentic behaviour). The concept of political freedom is closely connected with the concepts of
civil liberties Civil liberties are guarantees and freedoms that governments commit not to abridge, either by constitution, legislation Legislation is law which has been promulgation, promulgated (or "enactment of a bill, enacted") by a legislature or other Gover ...
human rights Human rights are Morality, moral principles or Norm (social), normsJames Nickel, with assistance from Thomas Pogge, M.B.E. Smith, and Leif Wenar, 13 December 2013, Stanford Encyclopedia of PhilosophyHuman Rights Retrieved 14 August 2014 for ...
, which in democratic societies are usually afforded legal protection from the
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, Un ...


Various groups along the
political spectrum A political spectrum is a system to characterize and classify different in relation to one another. These positions sit upon one or more that represent independent political dimensions. The expressions political compass and political map are ...

political spectrum
hold different views about what they believe constitutes political freedom.
Left-wing Left-wing politics supports social equality and egalitarianism Egalitarianism (), or equalitarianism, is a school of thought within political philosophy that builds from the concept of social equality, prioritizing it for all people. ...
political philosophy generally couples the notion of freedom with that of
positive liberty Positive liberty is the possession of the capacity to act upon one's free will, as opposed to negative liberty, which is freedom from external restraint on one's actions.Berlin, Isaiah. ''Four Essays on Liberty''. 1969. A concept of positive libert ...
or the enabling of a group or individual to determine their own life or realize their own potential. In this sense, freedom may include freedom from poverty, starvation, treatable disease, and oppression as well as freedom from force and coercion, from whomever they may issue. The socialist concept of freedom ("liberty") as viewed by
neoliberal Neoliberalism, or neo-liberalism, is a term used to describe the 20th-century resurgence of 19th-century ideas associated with free-market In economics Economics () is the social science that studies how people interact with value; ...
philosopher and
Nobel Memorial Prize The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, officially the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel ( sv, Sveriges riksbanks pris i ekonomisk vetenskap till Alfred Nobels minne), is an economics prize administered b ...
Economist Friedrich Hayek is that "the use of 'liberty' to describe the physical 'ability to do what I want', the power to satisfy our wishes, or the extent of the choice of alternatives open to us ... has been deliberately fostered as part of the socialist argument ... the notion of collective power over circumstances has been substituted for that of individual liberty." Social anarchists see negative and positive liberty as complementary concepts of freedom. Such a view of rights may require utilitarian trade-offs, such as sacrificing the right to the product of one's labor or freedom of association for less racial discrimination or more subsidies for housing. Social anarchists describe the negative liberty-centric view endorsed by Right Libertarianism, capitalism as "selfish freedom". Anarcho-capitalists see negative rights as a consistent system. Ayn Rand described it as "a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man's freedom of action in a social context". To such libertarians, positive liberty is contradictory since so-called rights must be traded off against each other, debasing legitimate rights which by definition trump other moral considerations. Any alleged right which calls for an end result (e.g. housing, education, medical services and so on) produced by people is in effect a purported right to enslave others. Political philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre theorized freedom in terms of our social interdependence with other people. Nobel Memorial Prize Economist Milton Friedman, argues in his book ''Capitalism and Freedom'' that there are two types of freedom, namely political freedom and economic freedom, and that without economic freedom there cannot be political freedom. In his article "Why the Market Subverts Democracy", Robin Hahnel takes issue with Friedman's concept of economic freedom, asserting that there will be infringements on the freedom of others whenever anyone exercises their own economic freedom. He argues that such infringements produce conflicts that are resolved through property rights systems, and therefore it is essential to decide what is a better or a worse property rights system, yet Friedman simply takes for granted the existing property rights and does not question them. Political philosopher Nikolas Kompridis posits that the pursuit of freedom in the modern era can be broadly divided into two motivating ideals, namely freedom as autonomy or independence and freedom as the ability to cooperatively initiate a new beginning. Political freedom has also been theorized in its opposition to and a condition of power relations, or the power of action upon actions, by Michel Foucault. It has also been closely identified with certain kinds of artistic and cultural practice by Cornelius Castoriadis, Antonio Gramsci, Herbert Marcuse, Jacques Rancière and Theodor Adorno. Environmentalists often argue that political freedoms should include some constraint on use of ecosystems. They maintain there is no such thing, for instance, as freedom to pollute or freedom to deforest given that such activities create negative externalities, which violates other groups' liberty to not be exposed to pollution. The popularity of Sport utility vehicle, SUVs, golf and urban sprawl has been used as evidence that some ideas of freedom and ecological conservation can clash. This leads at times to serious confrontations and clashes of Value (personal and cultural), values reflected in advertising campaigns, e.g. that of PETA regarding fur. John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton, John Dalberg-Acton stated: "The most certain test by which we judge whether a country is really free is the amount of security enjoyed by minorities." Gerald C. MacCallum Jr. spoke of a compromise between positive and negative freedoms, saying that an agent must have full autonomy over themselves. It is triadic in relation to each other because it is about three things, namely the agent, the constraints they need to be free from and the goal they are aspiring to.


Hannah Arendt traces the conceptual origins of freedom to ancient Greece, ancient Greek politics. According to her study, the concept of freedom was historically inseparable from political action. Politics could only be practiced by those who had freed themselves from the necessities of life so that they could participate in the realm of political affairs. According to Arendt, the concept of freedom became associated with the Christian notion of free will, freedom of the will, or inner freedom, around the 5th century CE and since then freedom as a form of political action has been neglected even though, as she says, freedom is "the raison d'être of politics". Arendt says that political freedom is historically opposed to sovereignty or will-power since in ancient Greece and Rome the concept of freedom was inseparable from performance and did not arise as a conflict between the will and the self. Similarly, the idea of freedom as freedom from politics is a notion that developed in modern times. This is opposed to the idea of freedom as the capacity to "begin anew", which Arendt sees as a corollary to the innate human condition of natality, or our nature as "new beginnings and hence beginners". In Arendt's view, political action is an interruption of automatic process, either natural or historical. The freedom to begin anew is thus an extension of "the freedom to call something into being which did not exist before, which was not given, not even as an object of cognition or imagination, and which therefore, strictly speaking, could not be known".Hannah Arendt, "What is Freedom?", p. 151.

See also

* Academic freedom * Civil and political rights * Decentralization * Dissident * Economic freedom * Freedom from Unreasonable search and seizure, unreasonable searches and seizures, which is related to freedom of privacy * Freedom House * Freedom of assembly * Freedom of association * Freedom of movement * Freedom of religion * Freedom of speech * Freedom of the press * Freedom of thought * Global Social Change Research Project * Libertarianism (disambiguation) * List of indices of freedom * Negative and positive rights * Political prisoner * Right to arms * Scientific freedom * Suffrage * ''Two Treatises of Government'' * World Index of Moral Freedom


External links

* Alberto Abadie (October 2004)
"Poverty, Political Freedom, and the Roots of Terrorism"
(PDF). Harvard University and NBER.

* [ "Freedom: The Great Gift of the West"]. {{DEFAULTSORT:Political Freedom Civil rights and liberties Political concepts Social concepts